Sunday, August 23, 2009


from This Is

Coggin Pontiac, a car dealer in Jacksonville, Fla., was a
bit suspicious of a check that a woman wrote for a new $70,000 car --
the check identified the account holders as "Mr. and Mrs. Jesus and
Emma Christ". The dealer called the woman's bank, which said the check
was not valid, so their next call was to the Jacksonville Sheriff's
Office. Deputies found Emma Kim-Tashis Harrison, 25, had multiple
credit cards in her purse, some in her name, and others bearing the
name Emma Christ. She insisted she had the money to back the check,
since she owns "a traveling Web site that people just deposit money
into." Deputies arrested her on felony fraud charges. (Jacksonville
Times-Union) ...It's unclear which is crazier: that anyone would "just
deposit money" into her web site, or that anyone would want a $70,000

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How Do Thieves Steal Your Identity?

from AOL Wallet Pop

First, they steal your personal information by...

...Going through your mail or trash, looking for bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, and tax information.
...Stealing personal information from your wallet or purse such as identification, credit, or bank cards.
...Completing change-of-address forms to redirect your mail.
...Obtaining your credit report by posing as someone who has a lawful right to the information.
...Acquiring personal information you share on unsecured sites on the Internet.
...Buying personal information about you from an inside source -- for example, a store employee that gets your information from a credit application or by "skimming" your credit card information when you make a purchase.
...Getting your personnel records at work.
Then identity thieves...

...Open new credit card accounts using your name, date of birth, and Social Insurance Number. When they use the credit cards and don't pay the bills, the delinquency is reported on your credit report.
...Establish phone or cellular service in your name.
...Open a bank account in your name and write bad cheques on the account.
...Counterfeit cheques or debit cards, and drain your bank account.
...Buy cars by taking out auto loans in your name.
...Call your credit card issuer and, pretending to be you, change the address on the account. Bills get sent to the new address, so you don't realize there's a problem until you check your credit report or get a call from a collection agency.
...File for bankruptcy using your name to avoid paying debts they've incurred under your name.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Twishing: Beware of the Latest ID Scam

This tricky combination of Phishing and Twitter Uses Common Scam Techniques to steal your identity.
By Rob Douglas, August 14, 2009 from Webopedia

Every time a new communication method becomes popular, fraudsters look for a new way to commit identity theft. One of the latest popular scams is "twishing."

Twishing is a combination of Twitter and phishing, uses the growing popularity of the microblogging service in an attempt to steal your identity.

Twitter, which limits users to 140-character messages broadcast to the public or directly to "followers" who have chosen to receive the updates, is one of the latest identity fraud schemes because it is growing so quickly in popularity due to the message length limitations.

Fraudsters jump on new communication methods because law enforcement is slow to respond and communications providers often will rush out new technology without thoroughly testing potential security flaws.

Security flaws enable hackers to gain access to accounts, but such thefts require some technical knowledge. It’s much easier to lure someone (the idea of fishing lures gave rise to the term "phishing") to reveal private information than to hack into their account.

The idea of luring someone to reveal private information is nothing new. Famous check scam artist Frank Abagnale, subject of the movie "Catch Me If You Can", used clothing (e.g., dressing like a pilot) to lure people to give him sensitive information. While the movie was based on facts, a fictional television program, "The Rockford Files" also featured the lead character using fake business cards and smooth talk to obtain information.

Twishing works the same way. A short public message like “see what they're saying about you on xyzblog" followed by a link can direct the unwitting Twitter user to a blog that looks like Twitter, but is actually a site operated by the fraudster, who then seeks to gain personal information. Twitter recently changed its look, which will likely deter twishing for at least a while. But fraudsters are always looking for the next scam.

This is very similar to fraudsters who misrepresent themselves as being from a large financial institution while sending out millions of official e-mails trying to trick legitimate account holders into revealing personal account information. While most of these e-mails will go to people who have no banking relationship with the financial institution, the phishing e-mail will reach some legitimate account holders. The e-mail will ask account holders to resend their account information – often with the threat of suspending the account if they don’t.

Some of the telltale signs that a phishing e-mail is a fraud are typos, poor grammar or incomplete information in the phishing message. But the message limitations of Twitter make it easy to overlook such details. Twitter users will use chat and text message abbreviations (e.g., “u" for “you") and grammatical rules are largely ignored. So the hints aren’t as obvious.

However, some of the basic steps to protect one’s identity work to protect against twishing just as they do against phishing:

Don’t provide personal information online

If a message looks suspicious, it probably is

Be cautious in opening “retweeted" items. The last sender may not be aware of the malicious nature of the message.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Tips To Beat the Scammers

Beat the scammers in 2009! If that was not among your New Year's resolutions, maybe you should think seriously about adding it. Because all the signs are that the scammers are planning a BIG year in 2009.

They know the economy is in trouble and that we're all looking for ways to save, earn extra cash or help those less fortunate than ourselves. And that's all prime territory for crooks planning to hoodwink us into parting with our money.

Plus, more people down on their luck will mean more people tempted to try their hand at scamming.

And please don't think that if you're one of the lucky few who've never been targeted for a scam that you're immune to these tricksters. Sooner or later you'll encounter them -- in your mailbox, your email inbox, on the phone or face to face.

OK, that's enough gloom. We want you to be able to celebrate 2009, so we've put together some tips to help you beat the scammers.

Tip #1. Be very skeptical -- and trust almost no one

That's right, we say trust almost no one. That's because even people we think we know, including family and friends, may have innocently been tricked into becoming part of a scam.

They may pass on investment "advice" from someone they know. Or their identity may have been stolen so what you think is coming from them -- an email for instance -- is really from someone else.

A good example of exploiting our trust is the grandparent scam, where a victim gets a phone call supposedly from a desperate grandchild asking for money.

Thousands of people have been fooled into wiring hundreds or thousands of dollars to the scammer. You can find more on the grandparents scam on our website Cyber Security for Seniors.

Another good example is identity theft. As we've previously reported, fully 50% of reported identity theft is perpetrated by relatives, friends and neighbors, or acquaintances of the victim!

That's why we encourage you to be skeptical. Always ask yourself: What if this isn't what it appears to be? What steps can I take to check it out and confirm it?

Here are the main keys to being a healthy skeptic:

Don't believe sob stories from people you don't know. The vast majority of them are untrue.

Don't believe someone is who they say they are unless they can 100% prove it.

Don't believe you've won, inherited or otherwise gained a huge sum of money from a source you didn't previously know.

Which brings us to our favorite, which we never tire of repeating: Whether it's a miracle cure, a fantastic bargain or incredible luck, if it seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

When you do buy, never wire money via Western Union, never deposit a check and return a portion of money sent to you which is an overpayment, and whenever possible, pay by credit card (especially one-use credit cards if they are offered by your credit card company).

More tips to come...